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Nelson Guide To Writing in History, 2nd Edition

By Joy Dixon, Jeffrey W. Alexander
Instructional Resources
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Soft Cover
112 pages
ISBN-10: 0176500286
ISBN-13: 9780176500283
Publisher: Top Hat
Edition: 2nd

Developed specifically for the Canadian marketplace, the Nelson Guide to Writing in History provides students with research and writing instruction specific to the discipline. The book emphasizes what it means to think and write historically, and the authors provide step-by-step instructions on how to cope with the variety of assignments commonly expected of students in history courses. Using practical information and examples, it is designed to help students research and write historical essays and learn to think about primary and secondary sources as a historian would.


  • *NEW* Added a critical response paper (A critical response paper is a cross between a book review and a historiographical paper).
  • *NEW* Refined the "pitfalls" list and added a summary of it to the inside back cover.
  • *NEW* Material on book reviews has been expanded.
  • Canadian focus.
  • Detailed coverage of the parts of a research essay.
  • Guidelines for using primary and secondary sources, including the use of alternate sources such as visual and oral sources.
  • Guidance on the use of the Internet for historical research.
  • Examples of different types of written work typically required by history professors (book reviews, primary source/document analysis, historiographical papers, summaries, bibliographic essays, comparative reviews, and on up to the essay).
  • Four different sample essays (2 research essays, a primary source analysis, and a historiographical paper) on a range of approaches and subjects give consistent yet broad exemplars for students to follow.
  • Clear concise coverage of citation.
  • Includes a section on plagiarism.
  • Section on making reading notes.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • i. Why We Wrote This Guide and How to Use It
  • ii. What It Means to Write Historically
  • Chapter 1: Historical Sources and Research Strategies
  • Introduction: How to Read Your Sources
  • 1.1 Primary Sources
  • 1.2 Secondary Sources
  • 1.3 Online Sources
  • 1.4 Visual Sources
  • 1.5 Artifacts and Material Culture
  • 1.6 Oral Histories
  • 1.7 Statistics
  • Chapter 2: Common Writing Assignments in History - Their Purposes and Aims
  • Introduction
  • 2.1 Exams - Writing Effective "Short Answer" and "Essay Question" Answers
  • 2.2 Journal Entries/Reading Responses
  • 2.3 Summaries
  • 2.4 Primary Source or Document Analysis
  • 2.5 Bibliographic Essays
  • 2.6 Book Reviews
  • 2.7 Historiographical Papers
  • 2.8 Research Proposals
  • 2.9 Research Essays
  • Chapter 3: Research Essays: The Writing Process from Start to Finish
  • Introduction
  • 3.1 Choosing a Topic
  • 3.2 Researching Your Paper
  • 3.3 Reading Your Sources
  • a) Primary Sources
  • b) Secondary Sources
  • 3.4 Developing an Argument: Formulating a Thesis Statement
  • 3.5 Planning Your Paper
  • 3.6 Writing an Introduction
  • 3.7 The Body of the Paper: Presenting your Evidence
  • a) Building your Case
  • b) Quoting and Paraphrasing your Sources
  • c) Keeping the Reader in Mind: Defining Your Terms Clearly
  • 3.8 Writing for Your Audience: Format, Tips, and Pitfalls to Avoid
  • 3.9 Drawing Conclusions: Making Effective Closing Arguments
  • 3.10 Editing and Proofreading Your Paper
  • 3.11 Common Written Format for Research Essays in History
  • Chapter 4: Citations: Documenting Your Claims
  • Introduction: The Importance of Citations
  • 4.1 Common Questions about Citations: When and Why to Use Them
  • 4.2 Plagiarism
  • 4.3 Citation Styles
  • 4.4 Basic Citation Examples for Footnotes/Endnotes and Bibliographies in Chicago Style
  • a) Book by a Single Author, Co-Authors, or a Corporation
  • b) Journal Articles and Periodicals without Continuous Pagination
  • c) Other Periodicals (Newspaper/Magazine Articles)
  • d) Article or Chapter in a Multi-author Work, Anthology, or Compendium
  • e) Online Sources, E-Journals
  • f) Government Publications
  • g) Video Recordings, DVD-ROMs, CD-ROMs
  • h) Other Sources
  • 4.5 Subsequent Citations for Footnotes and Endnotes: The Shortcuts
  • Conclusion
  • For Further Reading
  • Index

Author Information

Jeffrey W. Alexander

Jeff Alexander is an Assistant Professor with the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he teaches World History and the History of Modern Japan. His research focuses on Japan's twentieth century economic and industrial growth, and he also has an interest in the history of China, which he taught for the University of British Columbia's Department of Asian Studies.

Joy Dixon

Joy is Associate Professor with the Department of History at the University of British Columbia.